On Wednesday, state health officials said the requirement for Colorado health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 expires next month, ending a successful and at times controversial mandate that fueled high vaccination rates among vendors and staff.

The decision, handed over to the Colorado Health Board on Wednesday, strikes down the rule nearly a year after the board passed it at the urging of Gov. Jared Polis.

Officials from the state Department of Public Health and the Environment told the board of directors on Wednesday that all healthcare workers who were going to get vaccinated had already done so and that they wanted to “balance the need for high vaccination rates with the business needs of healthcare facilities.” .”

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In a statement to the Gazette, Polis thanked the board “for their rapid response to Colorado’s changing needs, including our data-driven healthcare workforce needs.”

Even though the state rule expires on July 14, many facilities in Colorado will still be subject to the federal vaccination requirement: About a third of the state’s healthcare facilities are subject to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rule requiring vaccination, a health department spokesman said. board. Organizations can also require their workers to be vaccinated, as Denver Health and UCHealth have done.

In a statement Wednesday, a spokesperson for UCHealth said the system has no plans to change its vaccination requirements.

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However, the state’s decision means the state will no longer require two-thirds of businesses to hire only vaccinated or exempt workers. While the rule has received widespread support, its requirement for 100% compliance has raised concerns among some healthcare organizations, who have warned that the mandate threshold is “desirable” and will hurt their already busy staffing levels.

Despite these concerns, statistics released on Wednesday showed the effectiveness of the mandate and its limited negative impact on staffing levels: when the rule was first approved, approximately 70% of healthcare workers were vaccinated. As of June 1, this figure has risen to 94%. What’s more, Ann Strawbridge of the Department of Health told the board that only 1% of employees — a broad group that includes not only first-line providers but also officers, supervisors and support staff — quit their jobs because of the demand.

Indeed, before the meeting on Wednesday, it seemed that the rule would work. In March, health ministry officials told the council that while they were still gathering feedback from “stakeholders,” they intended to return to the council in May to ask that the vaccine requirement be made permanent.

But the topic was not brought to the board in May, and on Wednesday Strawbridge told its members that the rule would expire in a month. She said the proportion of healthcare workers who have been vaccinated has remained stable over the past three months. She said it indicated that “all employees who intended to be vaccinated did so, and those who sought release did so.”

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Despite the success of the rule, Strawbridge said the department realized that “many facilities continue to struggle, and the need for vaccines is one aspect of a very difficult problem” in terms of staffing.

In November, The Gazette spoke to every major hospital system in the state, and they all said the vaccination mandate had minimal impact on staffing. The Colorado Hospital Association said it was a “very small part” of the staff shortage. However, some health officials said it could prevent facilities from hiring new staff.

Although this mandate will end, Strawbridge has suggested that some rules regarding COVID-19 vaccinations may be introduced later. The recently passed law will require the Ministry of Health to develop rules for personnel standards, including those related to infection control. She told the board of directors that no decisions had yet been made, but “the department anticipates that COVID-19 vaccinations will be part of the discussion.”

When the health board put the rule into effect in August, Denver just announced its own vaccine requirements for a wide range of city and community workers. The city lifted that requirement in February.

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